Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers 4 PosterRating: ★★★★★

Forget about the title “Best Action Director of All Time”; Michael Bay is King of the World. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is a spectacle of sight and sound, of genius and art, of expression and imagination. It is everything we hope for in a giant alien robot action movie, but pumped with steroids, marinated in Bay Sauce and stretched to infinity and beyond.

It is the sight of half a dozen towering robots who chase and punch and shoot and talk trash at each other – sometimes in that order, sometimes in a random loop, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes in a simultaneous loop in different orders, and sometimes all of the above, all the time.

It is the sound of “dialogue” written by “screenwriter” Ehren Kruger, overlapped by the kinetic clashing of metallic entities, overlapped by the crisp explosions of everything that occupies the background, overlapped by heavy things banging on even heavier things, then finally overlapped by dialogue reacting to the things overlapping the initial dialogue.

Michael Bay

King Bay sitting on his throne

It is the genius of incorporating a “new element” in the trailer for each of the three sequels which are essentially and almost literally the same movie, where we get a stomping LEGObot in “Revenge of the Fallen”, a drilling Wormbot in “Dark of the Moon”, and finally hurtling Dinobots in “Age of Extinction”, which proven by box office records is more than enough for the price of an admission.

It is the art of sneaking countless sensual shots of sensually-dressed women in a movie I assume is meant for pre-teens, featuring not one not two but three attractive women who, despite their petite look, has more fat than talent in their body, whose names are Megan Fox, Rosie-Huntington Whitely, and Nicola Peltz, whom I imagine have all done more than just audition to get some of their roles, but I could be wrong.

It is the expression of Michael Bay’s wettest of wet dreams, which are highlighted but not limited to: the fastest of high-speed chases, the lowest of low angle shots, Robot Porn, running explosions, backflipping cars, face cannons, human-sized grenades, fire breathing, laser shooting, karate chopping, struggling actresses that need a lot “guidance” and anything that goes “Boom!” “Swoosh!” “Roar!”, and in some instances, and I’m not kidding here, “phrgpudijaihgacmlx!”

Bay’s ejaculation lasts 165 minutes, so better reserve the first row.

Transformers 4 Lockdown

It is the imagination of Industrial Light & Magic, whose employees spent hundreds and hundreds of hours constructing about five Transformers with a coherent design, a spaceship that looks nothing more than a flying junkyard (no offense to junkyards) and one generic Transformer design multiplied by fifteen, then hundreds of hours of  overtime were again spilled by these souls to make the Transformers destroy each in a matter of minutes, spread across by thousands and thousands of quick cuts, which will remain incomprehensible to the human eye for millions and millions of years to come.

I liked “Age of Extinction” in the sense that viewing it inspired me to revisit all of Roger Ebert’s pieces pertaining to the franchise, and reading him has always been a bliss, or a silver lining, depending on the movie. Early in my reading, I pleasantly discovered that a handful of his observations describe this particular installment so accurately that I might as well copy-paste them here. Because if there is anyone in this planet who deserves the Roger Ebert Treatment, it is Master Bay.

Roger Ebert

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.” – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

“There was no starting out slow and building up to a big climax. The movie is pretty much all climax. The Autobots® and Decepticons® must not have read the warning label on their Viagra. At last we see what a four-hour erection looks like.” – The Fall of the Revengers

“Finding success in a Michael Bay film is like finding the Virgin on a slice of toast, but less rewarding.” – Intro: “A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length”

“Those who think Transformers is a great or even a good film are, may I tactfully suggest, not sufficiently evolved. Film by film, I hope they climb a personal ladder into the realm of better films, until their standards improve. Those people contain multitudes. They deserve films that refresh the parts others do not reach. They don’t need to spend a lifetime with the water only up to their toes.” – I’m a Proud Brainiac

Beats Audio

“Age of Extinction” has more unforgettable moments than the overrated, elitist products of last year like “12 Years a Slave”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and even “Gravity”. Consider the spellbinding moment when the self-absorbed scientist played by Stanley Tucci materializes a BEATS speaker from alien technology. And who can forget the end of the spectacular chase sequence when Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager crashes in a BUD LIGHT truck? Or how about that nail-biter when a Pterodactyl Transformer *Swooshes!* down a building and almost crush a bus that’s very clearly sponsored by VICTORIA’S SECRET? And lastly, what kind of “Transformers” movie would this be if it doesn’t have a shot of a building being torn apart with a SAMSUNG billboard watching in terror in the upper left portion of the screen?

Such masterful framing, King Bay. Although if those greedy producers weren’t choking your artistic ways, I’m pretty sure you could have included Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, Marlboro, Apple, Sony, and Dairy Queen somewhere in your masterpiece. Quite frankly, some of your frames had “Free Space” written all over them.

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime is the movie, I am the Dinobot

Walking in the cinema, I had no idea that the 7:10PM screening I attended last Wednesday was going to be a special event. About a fourth into the film, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook the cinema for at least a full minute. Almost half of the full-house audience walked out in panic, others in caution. I stayed because (1) I’m not sure of the minimum magnitude required for a refund and (2) I really wanted to write this review in hope that someone would read this and embrace it as their silver lining.

In the instance that the earthquake was much stronger and authorities advised the audience to evacuate, I would have probably complied and walked out of the theater, but it won’t be primarily because of that damned earthquake.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Days of Future Past PosterRating: ★★★★☆

The opening shot imagines an apocalyptic future. New York is devastated and hopeless, and the first people we see are lifeless ones being dumped from a truck. A miserable crowd of humans and mutants slowly march with blank faces, possibly towards their execution. A pile of bones cover the earth, where more rot is surely buried underneath.

Meanwhile, a desperate group of survivors retreat in a ruined monastery. Knowing that they will soon be caught, the group sends one of their friends in a last-ditch effort to fix what’s become of the world. The odds that the plan will succeed? Slim, but what other choice do they have? That they sit and wait behind tainted windows suggests that what they are in is less of a mission than it is a prayer.

If you’ve ever wondered how comic book superheroes would fit in a painting of The Holocaust, well here it is.

I walk in most Superhero Movies with an almost jaded attitude – thanks to “Green Lantern”, “Man of Steel”, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, “Thor: The Dark World”, and so on – but the dark, unconventional prologue of Bryan Singer’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” automatically elevates it from its comic book counterparts. It’s starts with a statement and ends with a bang. Even the scenes of exposition have a pulse. The hype, ladies and gentlemen, is legit.

Days of Future Past

Time travel is the group’s final measure to amend history, and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is the only candidate that could survive the trip. So back in time he goes. He wakes up fresh from a one night stand; if he was sent back a few hours later, the movie would have an R Rating. Just an example of how time can really change things, but back to the story we go.

Similar to the previous installments, we spend about a fourth of the film being introduced to the mutants, their superpowers, how they can help with the mission, and so on and so forth. In my review of 2011’s “X-Men: First Class”, I observed that the movie’s fatal flaw was drawing itself away from the interesting, important relationship between Charles (Professor X) and Eric (Magneto) to develop irrelevant, annoying supporting mutants like Banshee (the one who can cause ear cancer) and Angel (the one with throat cancer).

Mystique in Days of Future Past

In “Days of Future Past”, the primary characters get the screen time they deserve while the secondary mutants are limited to being cool special effects machines. Amongst the newcomers, runner-up goes to Blink, a sneaky lady with teleport portals while the crowd favorite will undoubtedly be Quicksilver, the gray-haired teenage rebel with an appetite for speed. (I refuse to name the unfortunate Aaron Paul movie).  This chill kid played by Evan Peter provides the single most entertaining, inventive, memorable sequence in the entire film when… but why spoil it for you? Rather, I’ll just pause and wonder why Marvel is busy financing a dozen other sequels instead of getting Quicksilver a film of his own.

Viewers who know their science-fiction will link the film’s use of time travel and robots with that of the “Terminator” trilogy. Comic Books Amateurs like myself thought that “Days of Future Past” got its idea from “Terminator”, but Fanboys were diligent in clarifying that it’s the other way around, since the comic book from which this film is based on was released way back in 1981. I highlight this because of my admiration of the Sentinels, whose unstoppable force reminded me of the T-1000. Both are sadistic shape-shifters that can take a lot of beating first then win later.

The number and strength of the Sentinels are great set pieces yes, but they also pose a real, genuine threat to our heroes. We see a lot of mutants die brutal deaths, and as generic as it looks on the surface, I found myself unusually involved in the climax of the “future” side of the story.

X-Men GIF

Our desperate group of survivors is on the brink of their last stand. Will their prayer be answered or will they, like their fallen friends, also end up being dumped on the dirt? Bryan Singer began his film so brilliantly that it would be a shame to let it end with a salute to Michael Bay. He does not disappoint. What has characterized the “X-Men” franchise is the opposing ideologies between Professor X and Magneto on how they think mutants should live in a world that is not ready for them. This is what decides the film’s outcome. Not by who punched harder or pulled the trigger faster. Here is an approach unheard of in the Marvel Universe. After more than a decade of remakes, re-imaginings, reboots, sequels and spin-offs, I think they’re finally starting to get the idea.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Poster

[Rating: 2.5] What do we get after Sam Raimi’s three “Spider-Man” films released in a span of six years? “The Amazing Spider-Man”, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, “The Amazing Spider-Man 3”, “The Amazing Spider-Man 4”, a spin-off starring Venom, a … [Continue reading]

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

G. I. Joe: Retaliation Poster

[Rating: 2] G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a no-brainer of a movie. If a supernatural force beyond understanding urged you to like “The Rise of Cobra”, then it is likely that you will enjoy the sequel just as much. Bless you. However, if you hated the … [Continue reading]

Roger Ebert. My Hero. In Memory.

Roger Ebert at the Movies

He really was my Hero. He delivered me from a lot of the dismal possibilities of an uncertain life: the tragedy of a wasted youth, the temptation to rebel, and the confused depression of having to face a future without a path. Everyone who knew him … [Continue reading]

MOVIE JOURNAL: Oz the Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer

Oz the Great and Powerful

It’s that time of the year again where celebrities are restocking their Botox supply in preparation for Red Carpet Premiers. My prediction is that such displays of anesthetized beauty will be adequately mild in the following months, since neither a … [Continue reading]

Freedom, Updates, and the Oscars

Freedom

It is over. I am done. No. Free. Yeah. That’s the word: Free. After four years of non-education, I am finally alive again. I can’t describe the happiness. It’s like being released from prison, except prisons have better cafeteria food. Am I being too … [Continue reading]

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

An Unexpected Journey Poster

[rating: 2.5] Let me get things straight first. I enjoyed “An Expected Journey” as I was viewing it. From the film’s first half hour, I could tell that it wasn’t going to be an event as grand and glorious as any of the “Lord of the Rings” movies, … [Continue reading]

MOVIE JOURNAL: Wreck-It Ralph and Take Shelter

Wreck-It Ralph

School has been a real asshole. I know, I know. My first post since July, and I open with a grumble? I can explain. Time is so darn precious, and much of it is required by the job I have to attend to and this blog that I have to raise. That I’ve only … [Continue reading]

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises Poster

[rating: 4] Christopher Nolan influenced a rare and astonishing phenomenon back in 2008: He united Critics and Fanboys in glorious, peaceful accordance.  Few would argue with the notion that “The Dark Knight” is the greatest superhero movie ever … [Continue reading]